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Greencastle school board OKs budget with tax increase built in

April 15, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Taxpayers in the Greencastle-Antrim School District could see their taxes increase as much as 3.2 mills for the 2010-2011 school year.

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board approved its preliminary budget Thursday with the maximum Act 1 tax increase index of 3.2 mills built into its revenue estimates.

The current mill rate in the district is 91.7 mills.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Expenditures for 2010-2011 are proposed to exceed revenues by $1.5 million in the budget.

School districts in Pennsylvania are not required to pass a balanced budget, according to District Business Manager Richard Lipella.

Revenues are estimated to be $31,599,028, he said, of which $580,000 are from tax increases. Expenditures are estimated at $33,174,639.

"There are some 'what ifs' in the budget that could shrink the deficit between now and June, mostly how much money the district can expect from the state," he said.

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Pennsylvania will not determine how much basic education funding it will allocate to each district until after Greencastle-Antrim approves its final budget, Lipella said.

Also unknown is whether the school directors will keep the $160,000 budgeted for the Public School Employees' Retirement System or PSERS reserve or the savings it acquired in 2009 for refinancing district debt.

The proposed deficit came after staff shaved an additional $674,000 of expenditures from the budget's first draft.

Director Paul Politis advocated increasing taxes for the coming year to help avoid a sharp tax increase in coming years should the district move forward with a massive remodel.

"I do not see how we can responsibly go without increasing to the index," he said. "The reality is we are going to have a major renovation soon and it will cost a bunch of money."

Lipella agreed, saying he recommended increasing taxes now to level the overall tax impact of the coming renovation that will be felt by taxpayers.

Director Brian Hissong questioned if there was a way to continue decreasing expenditures to make the mill rate increase unnecessary.

Board President Arnie Jansen said the budget is a dynamic document that can change until final adoption in June.

As such, he emphasized that taxes are not guaranteed to increase for the coming school year since the school board can still change the budget between now and its tentative adoption date of June 4.

The budget is available for the public to review at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library and at the school district administrative office, Lipella said.

One mill in the Greencastle-Antrim School District generates approximately $181,250.

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